Over 50 coronavirus cases at Isle of Skye care home

Home Farm in Portree

The scale of the Covid-19 outbreak at a Skye care home became clear today after confirmation that 28 out of 34 residents and 26 out of 52 staff had tested positive for the virus.

On Thursday operators HC-One said there had been a “small number of cases” confirmed at Home Farm in Portree.

However, it has emerged coronavirus has now spread widely through patients and staff.

The 40-bed home offers nursing and nursing memory care for those living with dementia, and is home to some of Skye’s oldest residents.

One family member of a resident at Home Farm described it to the Free Press as “the worst possible place on Skye for coronavirus to hit.”

Testing in the island is being ramped up this week, as part of a nationwide expansion of tests.

In a joint statement NHS Highland and Highland Council said they were working closely together to support Home Farm.

A mobile testing unit, manned by the army, is arriving in Broadford on Monday.

Home Farm have put in extra staffing and an NHS Highland support team has also been made available to assist the owners of the home to provide adequate levels of care when their own staff are at home.

Dr Ken Oates, Director of Public Health at NHS Highland, said: “There is no evidence at this stage that Covid infection has spread further into the community. The Assessment Centre in Portree and local GPs are not reporting an increase of cases.

“The measures that have been put in place will support us in ensuring, as best as we can, that the outbreak is as contained as possible.”

On Friday the Scottish Government promised enhanced outbreak investigation measures at all care homes where there are cases of Covid-19 – including making testing available to all care home residents and staff, whether or not they have symptoms.

MSP Ian Blackford said: “First and foremost my thoughts are with all those affected, the residents of Home Farm, the staff at home farm as well as all their family members and friends who will of course have worries as to the impact of the virus.

“I can also say that all of the public agencies have responded quickly and efficiently as the outbreak has developed over the course over the last few days.

“Testing and contact tracing will be important as we all seek to see the control and eradication of this outbreak on Skye and all of us on the island have our part to play in this.”

Soldiers from 3 Scots will be establishing the mobile facility at Broadford fire station from tomorrow (Monday ) afternoon which will be available from each day onwards between 10am and 6pm.

A staff member at Home Farm, who began showing symptoms of coronavirus on Friday 24th April, was tested in Portree the following Sunday and the positive result was confirmed the next day (Monday 27th).

Blanket screening got underway in the care home on Tuesday – and by Thursday (30th) details of an wider problem began to emerge.

The outbreak was confirmed by NHS Highland and HC-One in public statements released on Thursday morning.

HC admitted that their press office’s initial reporting to the WHFP had been wrong in stating that there had been no confirmed cases of Covid-19 linked to Home Farm until Wednesday (29th April)

The first details of a coronavirus case on Skye emerged in early April – and were leaked to the Free Press.